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4 Tips For Creating A VoC Program That Can Measure CX Success

CX (Customer Experience) has become a bit of a buzzword, which is fantastic! More and more businesses are recognizing the importance of two things:

1. Understanding the customers' experience.

2. Implementing a customer centric mindset throughout the organization.

As I mentioned in my last article (CX vs CS), improving CX throughout the business is part of every employee’s job. But how do we know if we’re successful?

How do we know whether the customer experience is improving or not? Whether our customer strategy is right, and our improvement efforts are bearing fruit?

How do we measure CX success?

In this guide I will be explaining how you can set up a VoC (Voice of Customer) program that is designed to effectively and authentically measure CX success!

Tip #1: Outline the aim and outcome of your VoC program

For any type of project that you undertake it’s important to be able to track progress and measure success. To do that, we have to understand what success looks like and what metrics to use to measure success.

In the case of a VoC program this means being clear around the aim of the program. In our case, the aim would be understanding and measuring the success of our current customer experience. You also need to be clear about the outcome you want to achieve, e.g. to be able to identify areas for improvement and execute on those.

Tip #2: Understand who your customers are, and what they experience

We need to understand who our customers are and what they are experiencing. There are two scenarios in which we need to understand our customers' experience:

1. For specific interactions, e.g. visiting the website to find information, calling the call center to get a query resolved, or heading into store to ask for help.

2. For specific life stages or journeys, e.g. how was their onboarding experience, and what do they value about our products and services etc.

Knowing who your customers are is an interesting challenge most organizations face. There are different ways to form a rough or a more precise picture of your customers. Two popular approaches are:

  • Data-based segmentations: This is based on behavior seen in your backend system. It can be as basic as knowing your customers age brackets, gender, location, and annual spend.

  • Research facilitated personas: These sophisticated personas will tell you Tech Savvy Joe is in his mid-20’s, lives in an affluent area, loves caramel frappuccinos with extra cream, uses your coffee shop app regularly to check for great deals and visits your cafe XX times every month, placing him in the “high value” category.

Once you have a rough, or precise idea of who your customers are you can start thinking about the experiences your customers are having, and the experiences you’d like them to have.

If you need help getting started, check out this list of the 5 best guides for creating customer personas.

X & O Data: Completing the picture

Now, how do we know what an experience was like for our customers? There are 2 ways to find out.

First, you ask them…

and then you observe them.

We call this the X (experience) and the O (operational) data. And there are 3 fundamental things to understand within X & O data.

  1. The What

Operational data is all the data that’s captured in your backend systems. Your POS data, call centre data, digital data, etc.

It tells you that: Melanie went online to purchase shoes XYZ on date ABC, she paid with a credit card, shoes were delivered 3 days after purchase, and the next day Melanie called. It took 3 min until the call was answered (1min longer than average), the call duration was 9 minutes (2min longer than the average call), she was passed from one agent to another one, and the agents coded the call as “incorrect product”.

This is the What. Now you know What happened. And this is very important. What’s equally important however is Why this happened, and how Melanie Felt about this.

2. The Why

As part of a great VoC program you’d also have incorporated what we call VoE (Voice of Employee = employee feedback). Part of this is that front line employees provide feedback on the customer interactions. E.g. why was an incorrect product sent out to the customer.

The CSR may or may not know the answer to this, but if they do, they can provide feedback to help uncover root causes and avoid similar scenarios in the future.

The employee can also provide feedback on the interaction as such. Depending on the aim of your program you can start collecting employee feedback around the service interaction, e.g. what made it difficult to service the customer in this interaction. This can help you uncover areas for internal improvements, such as process reviews, access to systems or knowledge base articles.

Most organization's these days have a VoC program, meaning a program that enables their customer to provide feedback. In an interaction/touchpoint environment, that’s typically a survey following up to ask about their experience for that particular interaction.

Through open-ended feedback questions we can gather insight into what happened from the customer's point of view, why, and how they felt about it. This enables us to gain insight into what we need to improve in the future.

The Why can then be explained by combining employee and customer feedback.

3. The experience (The Feel)

Now that we know what happened and why, we need to understand how the customer felt about it. We can measure the experience of ordering shoes online, and also find out what it was like having to get in touch to get the query resolved.  

As mentioned above, text analytics and sentiment analysis run over verbatim feedback is a great way to find out more about why the customer got in touch (what was the issue) and how this interaction made the customer feel. If you want to learn more about the importance and power of text analytic, check my recent article (Text Analytics, uncover the story behind your numbers).

But how do we measure this experience? How do we capture, track and measure how the customer felt?

Let’s look into metrics.

Tip #3: Choose the right metric: NPS,CES or CSAT

Choosing the right metrics for the job is crucial for the success of the VoC program, as well as the ability to measure CX success overall. Many organizations chose NPS (Net Promoter Score) by default as it’s the one (and maybe only) metric they know.

However, in a touchpoint/transactional environment NPS isn’t the right metric to use, as the likelihood to recommend a brand isn’t based on a single interaction (find out more here: tNPS oxymoron).

NPS, CSAT and CES are the 3 most frequently used customer feedback measures. They are complementary in nature, as they measure slightly different aspects of the customer experience.

If you’re unfamiliar with what those are, they typically look like this:

  • NPS (Net Promoter Score): How likely are you to recommend XX brand’s products and services to your friends and family?

  • CES (Customer Effort Score): How easy/difficult was it for you to get your query resolved?

  • CSAT (Customer Satisfaction Score): How satisfied were you with the service you received?

It is important to understand what you’re trying to find out and select the right metric for the job. Use these bullet points below to find out what is the most appropriate metric for you to use.

  • CSAT measures customer satisfaction with a product or service; CES measures effort required when interacting with an organization (staff member or digital); while NPS measures customer loyalty to an organization.

  • CSAT and CES are often used to explain the overall NPS number in more detail.

  • While NPS is a rigid metric designed as an overall brand health measure for a business, CSAT and CES are more specific measures that can be adapted to a given situation. E.g. product reviews, service interactions with call center agents/website interactions/store visits, etc.

  • NPS is a long-term measure, as the likelihood to recommend a brand isn’t based on a single interaction. A history of interactions, touchpoints, word of mouth, etc. form a brand perception and likelihood to recommend a brand in customers’ minds.

  • All those interactions and touchpoints that form a customer’s recommendation can be tracked and measured through CSAT and CES. By gathering more specific CSAT and CES feedback, we are able to understand the experience in more detail, and provide actionable insights to pinpoint pain points and detect opportunities for improvement.  

Due to the long term and high-level nature of the NPS score, this metric is best used in relationship or benchmark surveys.

In a touchpoint environment, CES and CSAT are the most powerful and insightful metrics to use when trying to understand and measure the experience your customers have. These two metrics provide you with feedback you need to understand the experience the customer just went through in more detail.

Followed up by an open ended feedback question, you get a clearer understanding of what went wrong, how the customer felt about it, and what you need to improve on.

Tip #4: Identify and prioritize improvement initiatives

Equipped with customer and employee feedback on specific customer pain points we can then dig deeper into its root causes. Once we know what drives or creates particular pain points, we can build initiatives around it to address those.

We typically end up with a list of initiatives and face the prioritization challenge. Depending on the stakeholder you ask, you’ll get clashing views on what’s most important.

As a business, you’ll have to decide on what prioritization metrics to choose, examples:

  • Cost
  • Timeframe
  • Resources required to implement

From a customer point of view, you can use your customer feedback metrics again to help you prioritize initiatives. Combining the score you chose with the volume of feedback mentioning the pain point provides you with an “impact” for the customer.

CES and CSAT provide the score (the severity), behind your impact score. Combined with feedback volume on a particular pain point, you know how often it occurs and how painful or delightful it is from a customer point of view.

Going back to our online shoe purchase example, you know for example that “return” drives 20% of your call centre volume, and the CES is 4.0 (meaning high effort). You have high volume and high effort, so this initiative would sit rather high on your priority list.

While you would want to smoothen out the return process due to its high CES, it’s also important to understand why a return was needed in the first place. I.e. why was an “incorrect product” sent to Melanie - which is the root cause of the interaction.

Combining the impact a pain point has on the customer, with the impact it has on the business provides a clear picture to form a priority list.  

Customer impact + business impact = priority list of initiatives

That’s powerful information for an organization to know what to focus on.

Now I know that’s easier said than done, but it gives you a solid recipe to design your program and measure success.

Example

Let’s look at a couple of high level examples to illustrate how it works. If you’ve ever dealt with customer feedback, I’m sure you’ve heard of these:

A) Problem: “rude agent” – resulting in low CSAT scores

  • Root cause analysis: agent not trained in dealing with difficult situations/customers, lacks the knowledge to deal with specific queries, feels undervalued, gets frustrated and overwhelmed, or the like.

  • Potential fix: CSR training

  • Result: It’ll reflect in an improved CSAT scores as the agent is equipped to handle difficult situations/customers and complex scenarios

B) Problem: “hard to find anything on website” – resulting in high CES scores (high effort)

  • Root cause analysis: customer/UX research to understand what customers struggle with

  • Potential fix: website redesign for specific journeys/queries

  • Result: It’ll reflect in an improved CES as it’s now easier for customers to find XYZ or get ABC done

Note: while you will see your CES and CSAT score improving quite quickly as a result of your changes, the NPS score is typically slower to respond. That’s explained due to the large number of decision factors impacting the likelihood to recommend a brand.

As mentioned earlier, a service interaction to get a query resolved is only one of many signals impacting your likelihood to recommend a brand. Just because one interaction was pleasant, doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods. You will need to deliver again and again to shift your NPS over time.

Not just in terms of customer service, but also advertising, product design, quality of service, etc. And that is exactly the reason why we should measure CES and CSAT in touchpoint interactions, and not NPS.

Conclusion

Recipe for CX success in your VoC program:

  • Be clear on what you want to know (objective of your program) and how you want to use that information (outcome).

  • Select the right metric for the job.

  • Enrich with employee feedback.

  • Combine with operational data.

That will give you a clear picture on what to focus on. Success, then, can be measured through the metrics you chose, after you’ve made changes to improve on the pain points you identified. Depending on what you chose as an improvement initiative, you’ll see changes coming through.

Melanie Disse

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